This Week's Focus Passage

Acts 28:31 ‘Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord.’

Acts 28:31 ‘Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord.’

And he abode two whole years in his own hired dwelling, and received all that went in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none forbidding him.

     —Acts 28:30-31

Is that it? Is that the end of the story? What happened to Paul after these notices? What is the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say? There are many options—read opinions—for the possible conclusion of the account of the life of the apostle to the Gentiles. Perhaps the most popular is that which has the apparent support of a non-canonical epistle by Clement. This is his epistle to the church at Corinth where he speaks of Paul gaining his wish to go to Spain and there ‘preach the gospel to the entire world from the east to the west,’ the west, of course, being Spain; although some even suggest that Paul went as far as Britain. It seems that speculation is not only a 21st century sport. Some have suggested that Luke, in Matthew Henry style—Henry, in writing his commentary on the whole Bible, was in the midst of Acts when he died—did not live to complete the intended volume. John A. Bengel supposed that Luke went ahead, with Paul’s blessing, and published the book, with its conclusion at verse 31 well before the martyrdom of Paul. “Perhaps Luke was meditating a third book in which to recount the acts of those two years.” We must be satisfied, knowing through God-given faith, that the book of Acts was superintended by God the Holy Spirit and left Paul where He wished him left.

A greatly appreciated and highly respected minister and theological writer offered his remarks on the conclusion of the book of Acts; he has written:

“The chapter closes with a short account of Paul during the period of his imprisonment. He was permitted to dwell in his own hired house, to which every person, who chose to visit him, had access, and to preach the gospel without restraint. Although the Apostle was in chains, the word of God was not bound. He was likewise employed in writing letters to the Churches in different parts of the world. The Epistles to the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Colossians, and the short letter to Philemon, bear internal marks of having been composed during his confinement in Rome. Whether the second epistle to Timothy should be dated from his first or his second imprisonment, is a question about which learned men are not agreed. The Epistle to the Hebrews, which is ascribed with more probability to Paul than any other person, seems to have been written after he was loosed from his bonds. He was restored to liberty, in consequence of a full proof of his innocence, or through the intercession of some friends in the household of Caesar, who had embraced the Christian religion. The accounts of the subsequent part of his life, or the places which he visited, and the time which he spent in his Apostolical labors, are, for the most part, uncertain and conjectural. We know, however, that he was again imprisoned in Rome, and in that city, sealed with his blood the doctrine which he had long and faithfully preached.

“I have traced, as far as any authentic records remain, the history of this illustrious servant of Jesus Christ, whose exertions in the cause of the gospel, were adequate to the high expectations which might have been entertained from the extraordinary manner in which he was called to the Apostolical office. By immediate revelation he was furnished with a profound knowledge of the mysteries of redemption; and in natural abilities he was, perhaps, superior to his brethren, in supernatural endowments, certainly not behind the chief of the Apostles. Transferring to the service of religion the activity and ardor of mind which he inherited from nature, he declined no labor, and shrunk from no danger, in endeavoring to advance the glory of his Savior, and the best interests of the human race. It was his most delightful employment to preach the doctrine of salvation by the cross, without being at all discouraged by the ridicule of the Greeks, and the persecuting zeal of the Jews. His life was a life of faith upon the Son of God, the constraining influence of whose love he constantly felt, and whose grace sustained him in a series of duties and difficulties, by the pressure of which the unassisted strength and courage of any man would have been overwhelmed. The close of his life might seem unfortunate to those, who looked only at his bodily sufferings; but it was cheered by the peaceful recollections of a good conscience, and the triumphant hope of an everlasting recompense. I am now ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day. In his conversion, he exhibits an instance of divine grace, which should preserve the unworthy from despair; in his Apostolical character, he is a pattern to Christian ministers of diligence and fidelity, of entire devotedness to the service of the Savior, and the most ardent love to the souls of men; as a willing martyr for religion, he inculcates this important lesson upon us all, that the truth should be dearer to us than our lives, and that we should resolve to follow our Redeemer to prison and to death.”—John Dick


David Farmer, elder,

Fellowship Bible Church


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